When life gives you lemons, make lemonade. When your friends give you a bounty of tomatoes, you make sauce. A fresh tomato sauce is a different creature than one that has simmered all day on the stove. Both have their merits, but for weeknight cooking, this incredible fresh sauce is a gotta try recipe.
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I was very excited when I came across this recipe in Nigel Slater’s Real Fast Food. His recipe is almost exactly the same as one described by an aunt and cousin who visited Italy and spent some time in a convent learning how to cook from the nuns. There’s nothing unusual about the ingredients and certainly nothing unusual about the preparation but the flavor is outstanding, especially when prepared with freshly picked vine ripened tomatoes.
We obtained the tomatoes courtesy of a friend of ours. He owns a shop in town and a little farm a few miles outside where he keeps a flock of chickens. I give him my kitchen scraps for his girls. Earlier in the week he was giving away tomatoes by the bagful. They were the big, meaty slicing tomatoes perfect for a sandwich.
Turns out they were perfect for this excellent sauce, too.
I peeled my tomatoes to make the sauce and then used a pair of kitchen scissors to cut small pieces directly into a mixing bowl. I find it’s a lot easier to use the scissors as cutting the tomatoes with a knife just makes a wet mess on my cutting board. If your tomatoes are seedy, you can remove them at the same time.
Peeling them takes less than a minute. Cut an X in the stem end (bottom) of the tomato and put it into a bowl. Pour boiling water over top and allow to set for 30 seconds to a minute. You’ll see the peels loosen from the fruit. Scoop them out and as soon as they’re cool enough to handle peel the skins off.
We choose to use regular spaghetti for this meal. Start the water boiling for the pasta while you deal with peeling the tomatoes and everything will come together about the same time.
- 1 lb dry spaghetti noodles
- 2 pounds (4 - 6 large) tomatoes, peeled, deseeded and diced
- ½ stick butter (4 tablespoons)
- 1 bunch green onions, trimmed, white and light green parts sliced
- ¼ cup loosely packed fresh basil, sliced into ribbons
- salt and pepper to taste
- freshly grated parmesan cheese
- Start a large pan of salted water heating for the pasta. When it comes to a boil add the spaghetti and cook until al dente. Drain in a colander and dress with a little olive oil.
- Peel and prepare the tomatoes while waiting for the water to boil.
- In a large skillet over medium heat saute the green onions in the butter until soft.
- Add the chopped tomatoes and any liquid to the skillet. Turn up the heat and allow the liquid to thicken into a sauce. Season with salt and pepper. Keep an eye on the sauce and reduce the heat to low when it's the right consistency.
- The sauce should be ready about the same time as the spaghetti.
- To serve two people: ladle about a third of the sauce into a mixing bowl (the one used for the chopped tomatoes is fine).
- Add half the noodles, some parmesan cheese and some of the fresh basil. Turn to coat in the sauce and distribute the cheese.
- Arrange the noodles on a plate and top with more sauce, cheese and basil.
- Repeat for the remaining servings.
We had enough sauce for four generous servings. It all depends on the size of the tomatoes.